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Bullwinkle: Hey, Rocky! Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat.
A common way for the trick to go wrong is for the magician to make a mistake and pull out something else instead. (It should be noted that magicians do sometimes intentionally set out to pull other things than rabbits out of their hats; but a White Bunny is still the iconic thing.)
Another failure mode, usually restricted to really inexperienced or incompetent magicians, is for the rabbit to be discovered sitting on the magician's head when he takes his hat off.
In animation, the hat is often depicted as having some kind of Hammerspace portal in it, allowing the magician to stick his arm in up to the shoulder, and often contains much larger and stranger things than a mere rabbit.
Rabbits are popular for this trick over other small animals (like, say, a cat) because they're better at sitting still for long periods of time. However, it should be noted that despite how it's commonly depicted, lifting a rabbit by its ears is very painful and could permanently injure them. It's also likely to ruin the act if they freak out. Normally they put the hand under the rabbit's belly.
See also: What Have We Ear?
- A commercial for Magic Gushers had a pretty nightmare fuelish version of it by having a kid's head transform into a top hat. One pull inside the hat and out pops the head of a rabbit!
Anime and Manga
- In Ranma ½, Ranma uses magic tricks to insult Mousse's fighting style. Ranma pulls many things like bunnies and doves from "her" sleeves and later has a bunny come out of a top hat.
- The Post-Crisis version of Hoppy The Marvel Bunny came from a dimension of Funny Animals linked to The DCU via a magician's top hat. The magician would then pull terrified bunny citizens out of their world by their ears. Hoppy gained his powers when a suspicious Billy Batson investigated the hat, and said his magic word just as the magician pushed him in.
- In a 1990s Dork Age version of Challengers of the Unknown, this was the first thing Ace attempted when he was reinvented as a mystic. Since one of his teammates was actually named Rocky, he even used the Bullwinkle quote.
- Played with in a Cattivik story: two rabbits (a male one and a female one) jumps out of a magician top hat, and proceed to make out. Cattivik looks inside the hat and after getting out three panels later he find out that the rabbit had a lot of babies meanwhile.
- One Monica's Gang story involving Monica getting a giant bunny (actually Jimmy Five and Smudge in disguise) for her birthday had her father attempt this with her plush bunny Samson.
- This is part of Tatischeff's stage act in The Illusionist.
- In G. K. Chesterton's Father Brown story "The Absence of Mr Glass", when explaining Mr. Todhunter, Father Brown observes that a hat which does not fit him is none the less his hat — because he is a Stage Magician.
"What could Todhunter get out of this one old hat?"
- The Pilo Family Circus naturally has a magician perform this trick on show day. Unfortunately, Mugabo is a real magician with real magical powers, and feels more than a little degraded by having to perform it. Naturally, he lets the audience know this by detonating the rabbit all over them.
- In the first Harry Potter book, when Harry sees the Sorting Hat for the first time, he wonders if they're supposed to get a rabbit out of it.
- In the third book, Harry visits a magical pet store, where "a fat white rabbit kept changing into a silk top hat and back again with a loud popping noise."
- The children's book Pretty Good Magic is about a magician named Presto who has this as part of his act, but he only gets called "pretty good" because while his tricks do work, they're not overly impressive or he fumbles some part of it. He gets upset about this and tries out a bigger magic spell that ends up producing dozens of rabbits from his hat. Unfortunately, there's no reverse spell to make all the rabbits go back into the hat. Hilarity Ensues.
- Inverted as a gag in the Nightside series, where one of the bar patrons at Strangefellows had evidently pissed off the rabbit he'd used in this act. His top hat now sits atop the bar, from which a human hand occasionally extends to receive a consoling drink.
- On the Doug Henning episode of The Muppet Show, Fozzie attempts to perform his own magic by pulling the old rabbit hat trick. However, being Fozzie, he has some trouble with it; he pulls out a rabbi, followed by a robot. Fozzie then hits the hat too hard, and suddenly dozens of rabbits come bouncing out of the hat.
- In a Muppet sketch on Sesame Street, Grover watches as the Amazing Mumford tries to produce a rabbit from his hat. Neither of them is aware that Grover is gradually taking on the features of a rabbit.
- In a more recent episode, Professor D. Rabbit agrees to be pulled out of Mumford's hat if Mumford allows the roles to be reversed afterward.
- An unfortunate rabbit who had faithfully served for years being pulled out of a hat didn't survive in the "Oh Oh It's Magic" episode of Pushing Daisies.
- Dr. Cox in Scrubs actually reveals this trick to Turk and a bunch of children to "rob their innocence."
- Hilda teaches Sabrina a version of this with real magic in Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Zelda is not impressed:
That's the oldest trick in the book. That's so old, mortals are doing it!
- In one Mandrake the Magician story, Mandrake did a magic show for a group of school children in which he appeared to pull an elephant out of his hat (it started out tiny, grew to normal size, and then shrank again as he put it back). When the school bully suggested that he'd merely used an elephant-shaped balloon, Mandrake stuck him into the hat, and invited the rest of the children to look into the hat and watch him being chased around by the tiny elephant.
- Dungeons & Dragons has the bag of tricks, from which you can pull all manner of fauna (roll percentile dice). Apparently, they come out as little furballs that expand to full size. Of course, one could always put the bag in a hat.
- The picture on this page is from the Avernum series. While pulling rabbits out of hats was never done in-game, assuming that magic in game is only stated for combat/support uses, it could be done in universe.
- Foglio's already done that joke. there's one problem..
- The icon for Audiosurf's "Bizarro" achievement features a rabbit pulling a man out of a hat.
- This seems to be the default backstory for bunnygirls and boys in City of Heroes.
- In The Longest Journey the protagonist must at one point beat an evil sorcerer in some contest. When she considers a conjurer's contest and says that she can pull a rabbit out of a hat, the sorcerer responds that he can pull a hat out of a rabbit. She promptly switches to other options.
- Mortal Kombat 2: This is Kung Lao's friendship move. It's later done in Mortal Kombat Shaolin Monks as two of Kung Lao's fatalities, the rabbit horribly mauling the opponent in one of them, while the other one just involves him beating them to death with the said rabbit.
- One Cyanide and Happiness video had a magician offer to pull out whatever a group of children wanted from his hat. He hands out a balloon and a toy race car. Then a kid asks for a little brother, and he pulls out a foetus much to everybody's (including his) horror.
- Jack Magic is about a rabbit who was pulled out of a hat.
- Kavonn from Charby the Vampirate frequently has jackalopes appear into his hat.
- Subverted in Daisy Owl. A wizard is asked to do some magic, and then he pulls a rabbit out of his hat... then it turns out that the rabbit was in there because he was using the hat for carrot storage, and he hadn't intended for it to be there at all.
- Used defensively by Merlan in Adventures of Fifine. (After describing it as "an amazing magic feat, never seen before in this world." Well, maybe his world...
- Wapsi Square uses the phrase to mean magic-like things not understood by mundanes here.
- An over-elaborate Bob the Angry Flower comic depicted Bob pulling a hat out of a rabbit.
- In Sinfest, the magician promises to produce a rabbit — though not out of a hat. One hops up. Given that God's the puppeteer — did he do it?
- A famous Running Gag on Rocky and Bullwinkle had Bullwinkle try to do this trick for Rocky, but instead pulling out a lion, a rhinoceros, a tiger and finally (after the camera went into a dramatic close-up on the hat) Rocky himself.
Bullwinkle: Hey, Rocky! Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!
- Bugs Bunny once had a run-in with a stage magician, in which this trick inevitably featured.
- One of his earliest appearances (before he became Bugs Bunny proper) was as a magician's rabbit in the Chuck Jones 1938 short Prest-O Change-O.
- In the cartoon Hot Cross Bunny, Bugs pulls himself out of a hat to amuse a group of doctors.
- The Pixar short Presto revolves around this trick, where the rabbit happens to be a Bugs Bunny Expy. Hilarity (and Portal-ish antics) ensue when the aforementioned bunny isn't given his dinner.
- One Classic Disney Short had Goofy as a train baggage handler who is trying to load a magician's trunk. Inside is a hat, and inside the hat were several rabbits, as well as some doves. There was also a magical cape that produced a bull, a boxing kangaroo, a fishbowl, and several other animals which Goofy then had to wrangle into the trunk when the train arrived.
- Another Walt Disney cartoon, Mickey's Grand Opera, featured a sentient magic hat which Pluto chased onstage. The hat fell in a tuba, and from there came an unending stream of rabbits and doves to mess up the performance.
- This was the basis for one of many "counting to 20" cartoon inserts on Sesame Street.
- In an episode of Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels, the Teen Angels were trying such an act on a TV talent show. Captain Caveman came out of the hat, and then he produced the rabbit from his own fur..
- There's a Tom and Jerry cartoon, "Haunted Mouse", involving a magician relative of Jerry's who has mouse sized rabbits in his hat.
- The Tex Avery cartoon "Magical Maestro" has a magician and his rabbits taking revenge on an opera singer.
- An episode of Teen Titans features Raven being turned into a bunny for this trick by the Amazing Mumbo.
- The Pink Panther encountered a mischievous rabbit in "The Hand Is Pinker than the Eye".
- In Rugrats, when Angelica is training to be a proper magician, the Running Gag in the episode is Lil constantly asking her to pull a rabbit out of the hat.
- In Count Duckula's first appearance on Danger Mouse, he puts on a brief magic show where instead of pulling rabbits out of hats, he pulls hats out of rabbits.
- In his youth, Phineas and Ferb villain Dr. Doofenshmirtz dabbled with stage magic, but when he went to pull a rabbit out of his hat, he got a skunk instead. Most of his other tricks ended up with him getting sprayed by a skunk, so he gave it up.
- Inverted in an episode of Defenders of the Earth: a magician does this to upstage Mandrake the Magician. Mandrake then tops his competitor with a big rabbit appearing on the table. When the big bunny opens its mouth, out flies a top hat!
- One Tiny Toon Adventures episode involved a magician pulling Buster out of his hat at Montana's birthday party.
- An episode of the Garfield cartoon had Jon attempting to perform this trick, with Garfield (in a rabbit suit) as the rabbit. The real rabbit had ditched Jon because he couldn't stand being pulled by the ears.
- The Bump in the Night episode "Hocus Dopus" involved Bumpy trying to perform this trick in order to cheer up a sick Squishy.
- Zatanna plays with this in an episode of Justice League Unlimited during her show. She reaches into the hat, wondering aloud where "Bugs" is, then suddenly, a giant hand descends from the ceiling and grabs a member of the audience. Zatanna pulls the man (now tiny, of course) out of her hat, then turns him back to normal.
- In the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic episode "The Show Stoppers," Snips and Snails perform a variation on this trick by placing the hat on top of the rabbit and having it be replaced by a bunch of carrots. However, when the time comes, the carrots fail to appear, due to Snails getting the munchies.
- The Rankin Bass version of Frosty the Snowman had the evil magician trying to pull Hocus Pocus out of his hat. At first, he isn't there, then he jumps off and runs off with the hat, leading to it being found and put on Frosty. The rest of the show is the magician trying to chase down Frosty, the kids and Hocus and get the hat back from Frosty.
- In one episode of Cat Dog, it's inverted (and lampshaded) when Rancid Rabbit pulls a magician out of a hat.
- Harry Blackstone Sr. is credited to be the first magician to pull a rabbit out of a hat.
- On a sidenote: you do the trick by hiding the rabbit under a false lining, so that you can show the audience there's nothing in the hat before pulling the rabbit out. Why rabbits? Because they sit still enough to keep the lining from shifting and giving it away.